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A. Gallo





Joined: 08 Jan 2011

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PostPosted: Wed 09 Feb, 2011 5:00 pm    Post subject: Did medieval sword design ever factor in 'knockout power'?         Reply with quote

Hi,

I'm not as familiar with fighting manuscripts as some of you are. Was there much (if any) emphasis on knocking one's opponent out? Or are such details/intentions difficult to decipher? Or are there any contemporary sources discussing a weapon's 'knockout power'? I'm quite sure part of the appeal of the 'flat' side of a warhammer was knockout force, but what about across the board, for example in heavy late-period longswords?

A friend and I were doing our usual weapon vs armor experiments but became a little gutsy and did some 'head-hunting' rather than just torso strikes. We realized that the main thing keeping us from doing 'full force' tests on each other wasn't the risk of breaking bone or penetrating a gap as is often discussed, or for that matter even denting the armor which seemed quite immune. Rather, the risk is knocking each other out (and don't worry, we stopped the test before it really started and neither sustained any new brain damage). Any sword over 3 lbs and 40 inches seems to run a real risk of this against even heavy helms and decent padding.

*edit**: some seem to have taken this to mean I am a sporting re-enactor trying to shape my view of history around re-enactment battle rules and theatrical knockdowns.. not at all. The sword we were using was an a trim VS a good quality, but aging barrel helm of average thickness. I've never been hit full force with a real sword so I'm genuinely interested in hearing your opinions, but even at partial/test force it rung me long enough that I would have been unable to defend myself from a followup and pretty helpless in a life/death battle situation. Thus this question. Perhaps 'stun' or 'knock down' are better terms since 'knock out' is both overly specific and has sporting-rules connotations.

As a side note expanding on that, I've often wondered what exactly the roll of the heavy 'War Swords' of the late medieval period was (aside from the theory that they were merely macho and ornamental). Other late period swords were going in two very opposite directions; narrow, rigid thrusting blades dedicated to compromising armor, and light, cut-centric, and even curved blades, which altogether gave up on defeating metallic armor and concentrated on more common opponents.

Meanwhile the War Sword simply grew in mass whilst retaining a partial-plate era cut & thrust profile, like say the Albrecht II sword. Is it possible that these were a sort of 'Jack of All Trades' weapon, more capable of rapidly disabling lightly armed masses of infantry than the concentrated penetrating blows of a polearm or hammer, yet heavy enough to easily knock out an armored knight via blunt force? I would personally consider their knockout power far more reliable than our usual visual of plate-vs-plate combat (grappling with picks, rondels, anything which may punch through an increasingly exhausted oppnent's defenses).

I don't really see how 'beefing them up' would help in any other area (aside from durability), since they would still be nowhere near capable of cutting through the newer armor types.

Just wild speculation. Maybe there are some references on just how common 'going for the knockout' was in the heavier schools of swordsmanship??? Once a knight was disoriented enough to lose his footing or his consciousness, capture or death would seem inevitable - and wasn't capture & ransoming also a common objective?


Last edited by A. Gallo on Sat 12 Feb, 2011 7:44 pm; edited 8 times in total
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Isaac H.




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PostPosted: Wed 09 Feb, 2011 11:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hmmm...very interesting speculation.Really though,in the heat of battle,I think that I wouldn't risk my back.If I apparently knockout an opponent,I wouldn't want to find out he had only been momentarily stunned by having a blade through my back.I just can't see how the technique would be that practical.When you are fighting for your life ,you go for the kill. All the manuscripts that I've studied emphasize efficiently dispatching your opponent every time.Of course,there was that time on The Princess Bride when The Man in Black knocks out Diego Montoya.(after all,killing him would be like shattering a stained glass window!)But that's no fighting manuscript Wink Razz Big Grin
Wounds of flesh a surgeons skill may heal...

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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Thu 10 Feb, 2011 2:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In a mass battle I think they couldn't afford themselves to get out of the formation to grapple and strike the killing strike with a dagger or halfswording. That's more often in a duel situation. In battle I think it would be preferable to remain standing and get rid of your opponent with strikes, if he is just stunned, doesn't matter, you have his friends to worry about, you don't have time for him anymore...
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A. Gallo





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PostPosted: Thu 10 Feb, 2011 2:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Isaac H. wrote:
Hmmm...very interesting speculation.Really though,in the heat of battle,I think that I wouldn't risk my back.If I apparently knockout an opponent,I wouldn't want to find out he had only been momentarily stunned by having a blade through my back.I just can't see how the technique would be that practical.When you are fighting for your life ,you go for the kill. All the manuscripts that I've studied emphasize efficiently dispatching your opponent every time.Of course,there was that time on The Princess Bride when The Man in Black knocks out Diego Montoya.(after all,killing him would be like shattering a stained glass window!)But that's no fighting manuscript Wink Razz Big Grin


Very true, but the problem when facing some opponents in top notch armor after, say, 1350, was that you presumably couldn't go in for the kill. A lot seems to depict (dismounted) combat as grappling, close halfswording, etc. It seems that all methods involved more than one killing blow. Of course, correct me if I'm wrong.

Would the act of knocking an opponent out with one strong blow to the helm, then 'finishing' him while he lay unmoving on the ground, backed by solid mass, take any longer than the battles of attrition and 'sniping for gaps' which many people believe heavily armored combat had evolved into? In a BATTLEFIELD context I think I'd much prefer knocking him out than stubbornly focus on killing him where he stood while my back was exposed to who-knows-what.

I know a polearm would have still excelled at this particular roll moreso than a sword, no matter how heavy, because of the weight distribution and concentration of force, but it would still be interesting to know if it was factored into sword design for maximum versatility.

Indeed it may just be hopefulness on my part; I love swords and could never get around the "Nah, they were either a backup weapon or used by rearward/skirmish troops against the enemies weakest formations by that period".

So many artistic depictions of them being utilized against plate - some obviously romanticized, but others depicted alongside polearms in what seems to be an attempt at realism. Do we underrate the knockout and obsess over defeating the ARMOR itself, when the heavier, larger swords remained perfectly capable of defeating the MAN wearing the armor?


Last edited by A. Gallo on Thu 10 Feb, 2011 3:06 am; edited 2 times in total
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Thu 10 Feb, 2011 3:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The best armour in the World won't protect you from a pocket knife if you stay immobilized for more than a few seconds
( If I promise to not move for 10 seconds you can do anything you want to me armoured or not: It's called being helpless. Wink Razz Laughing Out Loud )

As long as the armoured guy can move and protect himself he is very hard to kill or stop, but stun him or wear him out to the point that he is completely exhausted or unconscious and you only have to lift the visor and do the " obvious " nasties to him.

In battle as long as he is out of the picture move on to the next greatest threat .... and ransoming what a popular option so killing wasn't always the thing to do: Winning included getting rich and between gentlemen of means the courtesy might be repaid at the next battle where roles where reversed and you lost instead of won.

So if the sword could stun for at least a few seconds then other options become possible even if the sword isn't the ideal weapon to deal with someone in full plate, but given a choice I would use my A&A Spiked Mace or Poleaxe. Wink

http://www.arms-n-armor.com/pole004.html Yes I have one and I like it. Big Grin Cool

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A. Gallo





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PostPosted: Thu 10 Feb, 2011 3:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've always loved the proportions of that morning star. Some other reproductions take the size of the ball to cartoonishly massive levels, but that one looks so fun and balanced to wield.

As far as maces, hammers, and whatnot vs the sword though, I think the same advantage they maintained over a sword vs plate they may have given up vs lighter armored troops, where a sword was in its perfect element.

Since you could never know exactly what or who you would be facing, the big swords being used to knock plated opponents unconscious would seem to, in one semantic detail, move swords from a place of ceremonial/backup weapon roles to front line roles via its versatility against all opponents. No longer solely regulated to 'peasant harvesting' duty, so to speak.

That's why I'm so interested whether there's any historical documentation pointing at sword design reflecting this. Every argument I find regarding the 'phasing out' of the sword as a first-choice battlefield weapon seems to revolve around its ability to penetrate or destroy armor, something I don't feel was even necessary.
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Aleksei Sosnovski





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PostPosted: Thu 10 Feb, 2011 5:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, take a look at videos of mass reenactment battles in Eastern Europe. You will see a lot of people battering each other with all sorts of heavy things with full might but with little success. Trust me, hits to the head are so painful only as long as it is an experiment, but you start ignoring them once you get into a real fight. It is possible to knock somebody out with a sword, but it is very difficult to do unless the poor guy has a helmet made of foil. If you want some real knock-out power, take a mace or a pollaxe. Or at least use morschlag. Blade is not the best option. I would even say that it is one of the worst options unless you have a true two-handed sword which for some reason was not popular until the decline of armor use in the 16th century. And even a zweihander is far less effective than people would usually think (believe me, I do have a monster that is 155 cm long and weighs almost 3 kg). As far as I remember Oakeshott wrote that there were some very heavy "1.5-handed" swords in the 14th century but they very quickly lost their popularity. So I guess there were some swords with a design that empathized brutal power rather then hit placement, but the idea itself proved to be a failure. After all most people would rather have a weapon that is effective against all targets but not very convenient to use than a weapon that is very convenient but pretty much useless against armored foes.

Some time ago there was a thread about effectiveness of a bill (please correct me if I am wrong) which turned into discussion of effectiveness of polearms against armor. Find this thread, there are a lot of good arguments, some of which prove that polearms, and more specifically pollaxes, were very effective, and some of which prove that they actually were not. Considering that sword is a far less effective knock-out weapon than a pollaxe, you can imagine how "useful" it was such job.
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Josh Warren




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PostPosted: Thu 10 Feb, 2011 7:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am of the opinion that, if swords were very good at concussing a man through his plate armour just by bashing him with the blade, then we wouldn't see things like the mordschlag and pommel-strikes, etc. being developed...
Non Concedo
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Ken Speed





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PostPosted: Thu 10 Feb, 2011 7:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think Jean summed things up quite well. "As long as the armoured guy can move and protect himself he is very hard to kill or stop, but stun him or wear him out to the point that he is completely exhausted or unconscious and you only have to lift the visor and do the " obvious " nasties to him."

This wasn't boxing, there weren't a lot of rules, how you took the other guy out was much less important than the fact that you took him out and he didn't take you out. If you visualize two heavily armored men fighting then it seems to me that the effects of blunt force trauma and attrition are going to play large if not decisive factors in the contest..

Jean's point about the desirability of ransoming is very apt too. Clearly there were times when fighters didn't want to kill their foe but incapacitate him instead.

As well, an advantage of weapons such as maces is that targeting the strike is less important. If you can hit his weapon arm a few times you're going to weaken it, if you can hit his head a time or two he's going to be a little slower and less clear about what he's doing. If you can deliver a bunch of blows to his torso breathing is going to become more difficult.
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Thu 10 Feb, 2011 7:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Aleksei Sosnovski wrote:
Well, take a look at videos of mass reenactment battles in Eastern Europe. You will see a lot of people battering each other with all sorts of heavy things with full might but with little success. Trust me, hits to the head are so painful only as long as it is an experiment, but you start ignoring them once you get into a real fight. It is possible to knock somebody out with a sword, but it is very difficult to do unless the poor guy has a helmet made of foil. If you want some real knock-out power, take a mace or a pollaxe. Or at least use morschlag. Blade is not the best option. I would even say that it is one of the worst options unless you have a true two-handed sword which for some reason was not popular until the decline of armor use in the 16th century. And even a zweihander is far less effective than people would usually think (believe me, I do have a monster that is 155 cm long and weighs almost 3 kg). As far as I remember Oakeshott wrote that there were some very heavy "1.5-handed" swords in the 14th century but they very quickly lost their popularity. So I guess there were some swords with a design that empathized brutal power rather then hit placement, but the idea itself proved to be a failure. After all most people would rather have a weapon that is effective against all targets but not very convenient to use than a weapon that is very convenient but pretty much useless against armored foes.

Some time ago there was a thread about effectiveness of a bill (please correct me if I am wrong) which turned into discussion of effectiveness of polearms against armor. Find this thread, there are a lot of good arguments, some of which prove that polearms, and more specifically pollaxes, were very effective, and some of which prove that they actually were not. Considering that sword is a far less effective knock-out weapon than a pollaxe, you can imagine how "useful" it was such job.


What he said. I think the idea of knocking people out with swords is a popular fantasy inspired by the rules and culture a of certain very large mostly American re-enactor group which shall remain nameless, partly based on very heavy thick re-enactor swords and partly based on poorly made protective gear, and partly just wishful thinking to mold history and physics to fit their rules and preferred fighting styles rather than the other way around.

For emphasis, some of the videos he's talking about, which I think puts the idea to rest. Notice even the really big poleaxes rarely seem to knock anybody out (though I expect they occasionally do) cutting weapons don't work well against steel or iron amor.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLCLljsihzk&am...r_embedded
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wpxsdgqU1w&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czHwMZL8B38&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uykcM1j3zVE&feature=related

There are manuals on harnischfechten, there are specifically made armor-piercing weapons, which you won't see even at one of those crazy Eastern European events. Like these:










J

System D'Armes Historical European fencing in New Orleans

Essays on Hroarr

Introducing the Codex Guide to the Medieval Baltic


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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Thu 10 Feb, 2011 7:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In this article you can read about effects of sword hits against plate armor:
http://willscommonplacebook.blogspot.com/2007...armor.html
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A. Gallo





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PostPosted: Thu 10 Feb, 2011 7:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've never really watched re-enactment stuff before (although I have heard knockouts happen on occasion), so that's not where my theory originated. Don't they usually use weapons made of bamboo and whatnot though?

Keep in mind I'm not talking about 'swords' in general, only about heavy/war swords. Does a typical, short 1 handed mace really have that much more knockout power upon impact than say, a 47 inch, 4 pound XVIIIa? It would be interesting to see various weapons tested full-force against an impact-measuring target and determine just how deep of an advantage the weight distribution of a mace granted it and how large a sword had to be to 'catch up' in blunt force.

The tin foil-ness of a helmet doesn't seem all that relevant because a knockout is caused by rapid G forces on the brain relative to the brain stem/spine, not physical crushing damage to the skull - simply having one's head knocked back at a high enough speed can result in several seconds of unconsciousness. The weight of the helmet would absorb some of the momentum I suppose. The padding would probably be the bigger obstacle, but amateur/olympic boxers are knocked out wearing far thicker padded headgear than that via even more heavily padded human hands, a fairly pathetic weapon. Was that added layer of steel, with no sort of 'Hans device' mechanism preventing brain stem trauma included, enough to offset a full force strike with a 15th c. war sword?
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Christopher Punty




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PostPosted: Thu 10 Feb, 2011 8:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

When considering "knockout power" you have to think about the effects of adrenaline. In full fight or flight mode the human body is capable of some incredible stuff, I've seen enemies absorb some serious damage (multiple 7.62x51 hits etc) and still return fire for 10-15 sec before their bodies shut down. It takes a lot more to kill or disable a man than you think in a real fight than many people think.
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Colt Reeves





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PostPosted: Thu 10 Feb, 2011 10:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

While I am no expert here I think a possible analogy might be the ongoing debate among martial artists between grappling arts and striking arts. The grapplers contend that they can get in close and end the fight, while the strikers claim they can nail the grapplers as they come in.

This has been tested in real life though and isn't theoretical. Strikers like to say "Hey, when you move in for the takedown I'll drop an axe kick on your head", but take a look at how well that works in the UFC.

The fact is that an experienced grappler can often deflect, ignore, or simply outpace incoming strikes on their way to the takedown or clinch. Doesn't always work, but it does more often than not. Perhaps coming in to grapple at the halfsword while the opponent tries for a KO is similar.



Concerning the SCA, I understand they are, as has been mentioned in previous threads, presently seeing a change in the type of fighters. They used to favor big mean fighters who could wade in and slug it out, but now they're beginning to see smaller, quicker fighters. My guess is that this has something to do with the small but growing influence of WMA, MARE, HEMA, whatever you want to call it.

I wonder if there is anyone here who can say whether those who attempt to use the historical techniques are stunned or KOed as often as those who do not? I'd like to think our ancestors knew what they were doing and the answer is "No, they usually fend off such blows and rarely get hit in the head," but you never know.

"Tears are for the craven, prayers are for the clown.
Halters for the silly neck that cannot keep a crown.
As my loss is grievous, so my hope is small.
For Iron, Cold Iron, must be master of men all..."
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Aleksei Sosnovski





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PostPosted: Fri 11 Feb, 2011 12:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A. Gallo wrote:
I've never really watched re-enactment stuff before (although I have heard knockouts happen on occasion), so that's not where my theory originated. Don't they usually use weapons made of bamboo and whatnot though?

Keep in mind I'm not talking about 'swords' in general, only about heavy/war swords. Does a typical, short 1 handed mace really have that much more knockout power upon impact than say, a 47 inch, 4 pound XVIIIa? It would be interesting to see various weapons tested full-force against an impact-measuring target and determine just how deep of an advantage the weight distribution of a mace granted it and how large a sword had to be to 'catch up' in blunt force.

The tin foil-ness of a helmet doesn't seem all that relevant because a knockout is caused by rapid G forces on the brain relative to the brain stem/spine, not physical crushing damage to the skull - simply having one's head knocked back at a high enough speed can result in several seconds of unconsciousness. The weight of the helmet would absorb some of the momentum I suppose. The padding would probably be the bigger obstacle, but amateur/olympic boxers are knocked out wearing far thicker padded headgear than that via even more heavily padded human hands, a fairly pathetic weapon. Was that added layer of steel, with no sort of 'Hans device' mechanism preventing brain stem trauma included, enough to offset a full force strike with a 15th c. war sword?


If you have never watched, then just go and do it, there are some links above. You will likely have less illusions about swords' ability to knock people out. The weight of the helmet GREATLY reduces the impact. More than padding. Padding is there mostly to prevent the helmet from being driven into your scull. And comparing swords and fists is not the right thing to do. A good punch uses the whole mass of the body, while a sword blow uses only a small part of it. A stab can use full body weight, but it is another story. Find a good boxer and ask him to punch a bag really hard but fast a couple of times. And then try to do same thing using a sword. Of course you should also do it fast, you don't have much time to prepare for a strike in real battle. I bet your blows will not be able to move a heavy boxing bag as much as boxer's punches do. Now double the weight of the bag (a head in a good steel helmet is roughly twice as heavy as without it), put on some armor to slow down your movements, and before hitting the bag do 20-30 pushups (in the armor of course) because in a battle you are usually tired. I bet you will be surprised. Oh, almost forgot one thing. A boxer can hit much, much faster than an armor-clad guy with a heavy sword. It is often not one mighty punch that knocks people out, but a series of weaker punches.

About impact difference between maces and swords. I had a blunt reenactment axe that weighed 450 g (the whole axe, not just the head) that hit noticeably harder than a 1300 g sword. Now imagine a 1000-1500 g mace. You got the idea.

And an alternative to battering your opponent with a sword until he fell unconscious. How many people fought on foot with visors down? How many people fought on foot in full armor, with voiders, sabatons, etc? For me it would be much easier to stab you in the face or in the armpit when you are lifting your sword than it would be for you to hit me 10 times in order to knock me down. In a tight formation hitting from above is pretty much the only option you have (besides stabbing that is) so for me it would be quite easy to deflect your blows. And if it is not a tight formation than I can close in and use halfswording, which is again more effective than simply whacking a guy on the helmet hoping to knock him out. Oh, and my sword would also be usable in one hand, at least to some extent. So I could catch your hands with my left hand and stab/cut you all I want , but you would not be able to do same to me. Or maybe would, but far less effectively and probably only once. I once managed to hit a guy with a zweihander this way, but it was mostly my luck.

To sum it up.

Short dedicated bludgeoning weapons like maces and hammers are versatile, effective against both armored and unarmored foes and can be used with a shield or (usually) as a secondary weapon because they lack reach that is so important for fighting in formation. They can be used from horseback as well.

Polearms excel in formation combat, but are also very good in one-on-one fights. They are effective against both armored and unarmored foes and have a good reach. Probably weak spots are:
- the shaft that can be cut, but I don't know how easy or hard it was to cut a good ash shaft, so it is just my guess, without any clues.
- hands are less protected than when wielding a sword

Light swords, both one-handed and longswords. Excel against unarmored foes, pretty useless against steel plate, so go for the weak spots like face, armpits and fingers. Versatile backup weapon, can be used from horseback.

Heavy two-handed swords have a good reach, though usually less than polearms, are good against unarmored foes, but not effective against heavily armored ones. As a primary weapon for formation fights they they are worse than polearms and they cannot be used as a secondary weapon due to their size and weight. Main advantage is the ability to threaten multiple foes with wide cuts, but this ability cannot be used in tight formation. All that explains their popularity in the 13th-14th century, when there was little plate armor, and in the 16th-17th century, when armor use started to decline.
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Taylor Ellis




PostPosted: Fri 11 Feb, 2011 5:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Its my opinion that the lenticular sectioned swords of the 11th - 13th century were used with percussive intent against the mail clad opponents of the time. Obviously swords are not ideal for fighting armoured opponents, but there is plenty of contemporary evidence that they were used. Modern tests (particularly Michael Edelsons here on myArmoury) show that you can't cut through maille with a sword, and even big 13thC swords of war struggle to cut even padded defences. However, I personally think that the percussive force that a sword (such as a big XIIa or XIIIa, even the smaller Xa and XI types) could deliver along a thin edge would be considerable. Heads, hands, elbows, collarbones and knees would constitute the main targets.

YMMV.
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Johan Gemvik




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PostPosted: Fri 11 Feb, 2011 7:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I believe that swords were used as percussive instruments when they proved to be ineffective for cutting as you happened to hold it in your hand when you suddenly face a heavily armored opponent on the field. Not optimal but you got by with what you had available. It was the all-round weapon many would keep for any eventuality and often the last weapon left in a drawn out battle after all other resouces had been exhausted, rendered useless by weather (crossbows, firearms and such don't like rain so much), broken or thrown at opponents (as even in the Bayeux even maces can be thrown).
A knockout is a win, either for capture of enemies or for a coup de Grace and looking at especially some very solid and large swords, such as falchions, the energy in a strike would be substantial enough to sometimes kill even opponents with the best helmets around with a closed head injury. Some times this wouldn't even show any outside damage to the victim, just turn them up dead from a strokelike effect from the brain being jarred around in the skull hard enough.
Perhaps this is also a thought to have in mind if one is testing these theories on another living human being. Serious head trauma need not be a split skull, but could be just as dangerous. So play safe.

Also, something that's often overlooked, maille doesn't have to be cut for a sword to deliver cutlike tearing to flesh beneath, even through a second layer of padded jack. I've tested this with pig-thighs and swords and the damage from a solid blow was at times horrifying bonewhites showing through massive pig thigh muscle, with no or only very minor damage to the maille links and also only minor tearing damage to the padded piece of jack. So sure, swords are not optimal as cutters vs maille, but not entirely ineffective either. Stabbing would seem more optimal though, many tests today show stabbing through even riveted maille is possible, with some maille qualities at least, and I expect a few solid cuts can jar the opponent with pain and open for a fight ending stab.

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge
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Johan Gemvik




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PostPosted: Fri 11 Feb, 2011 7:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Henri Chandler wrote:


What he said. I think the idea of knocking people out with swords is a popular fantasy inspired by the rules and culture a of certain very large mostly American re-enactor group which shall remain nameless, partly based on very heavy thick re-enactor swords and partly based on poorly made protective gear, and partly just wishful thinking to mold history and physics to fit their rules and preferred fighting styles rather than the other way around.J


For starters, no one really knows how one fought in medieval times. One could have more of an idea how some renesssance sword masters taught fencing from surviving manuals, but ecxactly no one can know how one forght in the field in say the battle of Hastings, at least not more than very rough sketches. Because we don't have records of it.
That said, sure the SCA has one section doing sport fighting with armour meant as a modern sport more than anything else, among other activities including cut & thrust which is manual fencing of typical HEMA standard, rapier fencing, archery, and arts and crafts. These are all facets of the same certain very large mostly American re-enactor group some people here like to vent their frustrations on, in some cases rightfully so and in other cases not so much.

Here's a typical SCA heavy combat legal helmet, wehighing about 5.5 kg and expected to be worn with half an inch of padding :



This is a beast of a helmet, made from 14 gauge cold rolled steel, as are most used in the society. I dare you to come up with anything else even remotely as well made or protective against blunt attacks, except the heaviest of jousting helmets that attach directly to the chest plate. There are prettier ones around, I'm showing this one that has all the plate and grill parts visible to emphasize the level of protection it gives, but my preference is for maille or leather to cover grills and other unsightly parts. Knotwolf makes these too with all ahistoric parts hidden away, and with great eye for detail and quality.

Nor are rattan swords made to be heavier than historical ones, there's a legal max of 2.5 kg, as you probably know there were heavier swords around historically. Most rattan practice swords weigh well below this, at around 1 kg. My current "sword" is 1098 grams, very close to the typical historical weight of Gaddhlajts. Add to this the enegy absorbing qualities of rattan, similar to kinetic absorbing foam just not as much of it.
And yet there are knock-outs happening at times. Not often as we aren't supposed to need or want to hit that hard, but accidents do occur and lighter stuns for a few seconds of being helpless to outright knockouts and serious concussions happens sometimes. Even with one handed normally weighed swords, though these are rare accidents.

Now I can readily agree that some parts of the society are less than they could be at times, but the protection of the helmets are not one of these things. Anyone believing that should perhaps try one on at least once. In fact I believe it would do a lot of people here a world of good to at least try heavy combat once in their lives instead of just flaming it. It's not quite what you think, you're allowed to use many HEMA techniques, though most grappling are prohibited unless you do EMP or Tuchux fighting.


Apart from that I completely agree with you that there are better suited weapons than swords for damaging armoured opponents. Your suggested selection of various better tools for the task is spot on.

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge


Last edited by Johan Gemvik on Fri 11 Feb, 2011 9:34 am; edited 8 times in total
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Bartek Strojek




Location: Poland
Joined: 05 Aug 2008
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PostPosted: Fri 11 Feb, 2011 7:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
[
For emphasis, some of the videos he's talking about, which I think puts the idea to rest. Notice even the really big poleaxes rarely seem to knock anybody out (though I expect they occasionally do) cutting weapons don't work well against steel or iron amor.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLCLljsihzk&am...r_embedded
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wpxsdgqU1w&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czHwMZL8B38&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uykcM1j3zVE&feature=related



Damn, I know very well, those guys are mainly in there for good smashin', but still, hussar helmet with persian armor and something roughly like 14th century axe and shield, makes me shudder a bit, every time. Razz
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Johan Gemvik




Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Joined: 10 Nov 2009

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PostPosted: Fri 11 Feb, 2011 8:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bartek Strojek wrote:
Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
[
For emphasis, some of the videos he's talking about, which I think puts the idea to rest. Notice even the really big poleaxes rarely seem to knock anybody out (though I expect they occasionally do) cutting weapons don't work well against steel or iron amor.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLCLljsihzk&am...r_embedded
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wpxsdgqU1w&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czHwMZL8B38&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uykcM1j3zVE&feature=related



Damn, I know very well, those guys are mainly in there for good smashin', but still, hussar helmet with persian armor and something roughly like 14th century axe and shield, makes me shudder a bit, every time. Razz


Now those guys are crazy. I saw one video where a guy is hitting the neck of an opponent with a dane axe. A neck seemingly only protected by hanging maille. And the opponent just goes numb and falls down. It's just a matter of time before someone gets killed, then where's the fun?

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge
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